Mysterious History

Foundation pledges $13,000
for Underground Railroad exhibit

Hanover’s Duggan Library
will host exhibit in fall of 2009

By Amy Casebier
Contributing Writer

(April 2008) – The year 2009 will mark many exciting events, including the Madison Bicentennial celebration and a new exhibit at the Hanover College Duggan Library about the Underground Railroad, an important period in the region’s history.
The Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County has pledged $13,000 for the exhibit in Duggan Library. The exhibit will take place in fall 2009. It will also coincide with some of the events for the Madison Bicentennial celebration.

Jae Breitweiser


“It’s great that they got that,” Jae Breitweiser, CEO of Historic Eleutherian College, said about the library receiving the grant for the upcoming exhibit. “The Underground Railroad needs to be taught at every angle and at every level.”
Much of the money from the grant will be geared toward bringing children on campus to see the exhibit, Doug Denne, archivist at the library, said.
The Underground Railroad has a special place in local history. There are several Southeast Indiana Trails to Freedom driving tours that pass through Hanover College and Historic Eleuther-ian College in Lancaster, Ind.
“Jefferson County really played a huge role in the Underground Rail-road,” Breitweiser said. “It’s very rewarding to discover and look things up.”
Eleutherian College was also an important part of the Underground Railroad, especially when it was founded in 1848 as an educational facility for all races and genders.
“We’re proud of what people did in Lancaster,” Breitweiser said. “There wouldn’t be educational opportunities for African-Americans.”
One of the most interesting things about the Underground Railroad is the mystery surrounding the operation, Denne said.
“This was such a secretive thing,” he said. “People didn’t want a paper trail leading to their front door.”
Breitweiser agreed about the extreme secrecy of the Underground Railroad, adding that it was often difficult to trace its history.
“The whole Underground Railroad history had to be kept secret for so many years,” Breitweiser said. “People didn’t want to be endangered for giving help.”
The exhibit at Hanover College is in its early planning stages, so there is not yet a finalized list of events or exhibition items. At this point, Hanover College has a collection of diaries and correspondence from John Finley Crowe. Crowe, the founder of Hanover College in 1827, was also a stalwart abolitionist.
The Duggan Library also has two other valuable resources, Breitweiser said. These items include microfilm collections of “The Liberator” and “The Philanthropist” anti-slavery newspapers from the 1830s.
Other features of the upcoming exhibit could include speakers, re-enactments of various historical figures, dinners, Hanover College faculty lectures and more.
Although the exhibit will be hosted by the Hanover College Duggan Library, the events and exhibits are geared toward the surrounding community, Denne said.
“We’re opening our doors to the community and making it clear that these resources are for their use.”

• For more information about the upcoming Underground Railroad exhibit, call Doug Denne at the Hanover College Duggan Library at (812) 866-7182. For more information about the Historic Eleutherian College, visit: www.eleutherian.us.

Back to April 2008 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta